The engines of approximately 30 classic cars revved outside Eat Chow restaurant Saturday morning as a group of Eric Doran's closest friends prepared for a ride down Pacific Coast Highway to commemorate Doran's passing.
Doran, a Newport Beach resident and co-owner of Eat Chow in Costa Mesa, died in Thousand Oaks on May 27, 2011 when a truck rear-ended his classic Model A Roadster as Doran slowed for construction on the 101 Freeway at about 5:16 a.m. He died at the scene.
Pelle Klein, Doran's friend, organized Saturday's event for the second year in a row. The group made the same cruise last year following Doran's passing. On Saturday, the parade of cars traveled from Newport Beach to Seal Beach and back.
"This would have been No. 1 on his list of things that he would have appreciated the most," said Brian McReynolds, Doran's business partner at Eat Chow. "He was up for anything, no matter how crazy it sounded, and he had a love for life."
John Mearns, Doran's friend and owner of Acme Speed Shop, said "enthusiast" was the perfect way to describe Doran, and not just when it came to cars.
"He was enthusiastic about everything," Mearns said. "You couldn't discourage him. If he wanted to be your friend, you were his best friend."
Mearns said Doran would often visit Acme Speed Shop to work on his own car projects.
Eric Doran's father, Larry, said Eric was also enthusiastic about cooking and he was extremely creative.
"He would just whip something up and it would be good," Larry Doran said. "He did so many things at once. He liked everybody and had lots of friends. He treated everyone the same, from bus boys to servers."
Eric Doran's mother, Marie, was couldn't attend Saturday's event because of illness, but said in a phone interview that she had a great son.
"I can't complain about him," Marie Doran said. "He loved everyone and respected everyone. He was a good friend to everyone."
When the cars returned from the cruise early Saturday afternoon, the Dos Chinos food truck provided a fusion of Mexican and Asian cuisine.
Klein said the group plans to make this cruise every year to celebrate Eric Doran's life.